By Michael Hoffman
I’m very fortunate to work for a company that offers a very generous Paid Time Off package to its full time employees. Nevertheless, given my traveling habits, I’m a little ashamed to admit that after being on the job for less than 6 months, I have burnt almost half of my PTO. Chalk it up to poor planning, impulse decisions and trips, or lack of discipline, but I’ve come to realize that there’s a much smarter way to be spending my PTO. This post includes some of my plans to stretch out the remainder of my PTO, and hopefully it will help any other young professionals/travel seekers out there.
Tip #1 – Use It!
One of the most important aspects during my full-time job hunt was how much PTO I was being offered. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions in a job interview as vacation time is important to anyone’s mental and physical health. (More on this later). A happy worker is a productive worker which is why it is so important to take vacations or take time away from work to focus on the things in life that make you happy. Unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of their PTO. According to the U.S Travel Association, 52% of American workers didn’t use all of their vacation days in 2017. I’m sure there is plenty of reasons for this. Some worker’s PTO rolls over year by year, some may have their vacation time and sick time combined, or some may just flat out not use it. My advice is to take advantage of your PTO! Go on vacation, stay at home and watch Netflix, or do whatever you feel fit, but it’s important to get out of the office and not to feel bad about it.
Tip #2 – Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
For any college seniors out there applying for jobs, keep in mind there is a lot more to negotiate with potential employers than just salary. PTO can very much be included in negotiations along with salary and benefits which is why it is important to negotiate here. If you aren’t getting the ask you want when it comes to salary, asking for an extension on the provided PTO package is a very fair request. After all, it doesn’t hurt to ask, keeping in mind if a company isn’t being flexible with you, it might be a good idea to reconsider that particular company. Best case scenario in negotiating, you’ve just landed yourself an extra week or two of PTO to travel or do whatever you see fit.
Tip #3 – Holiday’s are your friend
One of the biggest mistakes I made during the past six months on the job was not using my paid days off around holidays. This was nothing but reckless and wasteful as paid holidays are really just a free day of paid time off. This January, I will be traveling to New York City over Martin Luther King weekend. Instead of having to take two days PTO, because Monday is a federal holiday, I only have to use one. Depending on the number of Holidays that your company recognizes, you can easily stretch your PTO by scheduling travel around these dates. However, you do run the risk of encountering far more tourists and other holiday seekers around these dates, but that’s the price we all pay in the working world. Welcome to real life 🙂
Tip #4 – “Workcations“
Workcations are another great option for working professionals who are able to do their jobs remotely. Me personally, who is about to enter into into bare, desolate, and gray Iowa winter months, doing my job remotely from somewhere warm and sunny seems like a much better option. Of course Workcations may be a little harder to negotiate with your employer, but if you can guarantee reliable access to the internet, complete your daily tasks, and stay online for the entirety of your shift, they may just go for it. In fact, you may just find yourself more productive from a warm beach house in Miami than in your office.
Tip #5 – Make a Plan and Stick to It
To avoid implusivity, make vacation plan each quarter. While the location and details are certainly subject to change, having a general idea of when and where you might take a vacation throughout the year will help you save those precious vacation days. I may be on the extreme end of this plan as I already have my vacations scheduled out for 2020. Unfortunately as I’ve learned, this tip requires a fair amount of discipline. If friends make plans on a random Friday to take a long weekend, it may be tempting to burn a day of PTO. If you are like me and plan out vacations well in advanced, it would be a good idea to save a few days as “Flex Days” to go on these impulse trips. Otherwise, it is important to learn how to say no and overcome FOMO because if not, those planned adventures later in the year may not occur because of your lack of discipline.
Work Hard, Travel Harder
There is no better feeling after securing a full-time job than having the resources and time to do the things you enjoy or to travel as you see fit. Booking plane tickets is by far and away one of my favorite activities now that I’m employed and have the cash flow to do so. But a life of exploration comes a life of hard work for many. Most of us will not quit our jobs to embark on a life of vegabonding. Instead, we are chained to our desk job, working hard to seek adventure, and doing so in the smartest and most fulfilling way. So use that PTO, go out into the world, and use these tips that will allow you do to do it far more often.